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Tea Brine Roast Chicken

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(serves 4-6)
For the Chicken
  • 1 large chicken (2kg) rinsed
  • 1 large onion, peeled & roughly sliced
  • ½ fennel bulb, washed & sliced into chunks, keeping together by the core
  • 2 oranges, cut into wedges
  • 500ml orange juice, reduced
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 10-12 cocktail potatoes
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 40g sea salt, salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Olive oil
For the Brine
  • 4 tea bags or 30g loose leaf tea
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • ½ tbsp whole fennel seeds
  • 110g sugar
  • 175g honey
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • ½ bunch fresh thyme

In a saucepan bring the water to the boil. Add the teabags & steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags/strain if using leaves. In a small pan dry roast the coriander & fennel seeds & toss until fragrant. Remove from the heat & place into a small bowl to stop them cooking. Add sugar, honey & salt to the tea mix & stir to dissolve. Add the spices & allow to cool completely. Submerge the chicken in the brine with the breast down, until completely covered & add the thyme & sliced orange. Cover & refrigerate overnight or for 24 hours.  Preheat oven to 180°C. Whisk together the reduced orange juice, cumin powder, paprika & chilli powder, set aside in a bowl. Add some sprigs of thyme, the potatoes, wedges of fennel, onion & oranges & toss with a little salt pepper & olive oil. Place into the bottom of the cast iron pot. Drain chicken from marinade, pat dry with paper towels, stick a few wedges of orange into the cavity, ½ onion, a bay leaf & truss the legs & place in the cast iron pot. Drizzle over a little olive oil, salt & pepper & massage into the skin of the chicken, then drizzle over the orange juice mix & massage into the chicken. Pour over any remaining basting mix over the chicken, & then place the lid on the pot & place into a hot oven. Baste with its juices, every 15-20 mins & bake for about 1hr 15 mins until golden & the chicken juices run clear. Remove from the oven & allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.          

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